Walmart Summit, Open Call Allow Companies to Turn Products into Big Sellers

Company owners who believe their retail product is ready to make a big splash will be at the U.S. Manufacturing Supplier Summit and Open Call on Tuesday in Bentonville.

They'll be there to convince the world's largest retailer — Bentonville-based Walmart — that they have a new product that's sure to be popular with consumers, and there will be hundreds of them making their best sales pitches to Walmart buyers.

"If you aren’t nervous going into any sales pitch, something is wrong," said Hugh Jarratt, a 38-year-old real estate attorney for Lindsey Management who plans to pitch a ladies boot sock this year for his company Jarratt Industries in Fayetteville. "Butterflies are there every time."

Walmart in 2013 announced that it would purchase an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over a 10-year period. By 2023, Walmart has pledged to purchase approximately $250 billion in products that support the creation of American jobs.

It's the stories from past years that demonstrate the power of the annual Walmart event, one that can take a small product made in a town and reveal it to a national audience. That's what happened for Philadelphia-based Joyce's Soulful Cuisine, a company that participated in last year's open call and manufacturing summit and now finds its Joyce's LuLu Bang Sauce on the shelves of 270 Walmart stores.

A company based on Hawaii — Kolani Distillers LLC — convinced Walmart to carry its product, too. Kolani's rum made it to 10 stores in 2015.

The successes include Jarratt Industries, which first pitched a product to Walmart in 2014. The Jarratt taco plate, which come in six colors and are approaching 1 million sales, is in stores across the U.S. The product is manufactured by Poly-Tech Plastic Molding in Prairie Grove.

Last year's Jarratt wader sock for men's boots made it into about 100 stories. The ladies boot sock pitched on Tuesday is intended to keep pants legs comfortable in women's boots.

The Walmart promise to invest more into U.S. manufacturing has helped create the long list of companies selling their first products to Walmart and selling additional products to Walmart. Massachusetts-based KettlePIzza, a company that now sells a pizza oven conversion kit in 500 stores after making a deal with the company, and Myndology, a Wisconsin company that makes ring-bound flashcards now sold in 3,000 stores.

The summit, which was first held in Orlando in 2013, is in its fourth year. It can be watched via a webcast starting at 8 a.m. central time on Tuesday.

Product sellers and Walmart buyers will have hundreds of meetings on Tuesday as part of the U.S. Manufacturing Supplier Summit and Open Call in Bentonville.

Product sellers and Walmart buyers will have hundreds of meetings on Tuesday as part of the U.S. Manufacturing Supplier Summit and Open Call in Bentonville.